Joburg Open defending champion Richard Sterne will be looking to get his name onto the upper reaches of the 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup standings when he tees it up next week at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
In one of the richest events on the Sunshine Tour, he will have his work cut out for him as he faces up to a host of local and European stars who will have their eye on victory in Johannesburg as well as some Investec Cup points.
Sterne finished ninth behind winner Jaco van Zyl in the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup after that superb Joburg Open performance, but he finds himself down in 140th spot this year, but a good performance in a tournament he will be bidding to win for a record third time will ensure he climbs those rankings quickly.
That’s because of the high number of Investec Cup points available in tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour in the year-long build-up to the Investec Cup tournament which climaxes the season from March 20-23.
The points allocated to each event are dependent on the prize fund and the size of the tournament, and events co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour – such as the Joburg Open – have 900 points for the winner.
Qualification for the 30 places in the final event of the Chase to the Investec Cup is determined through a points system that incorporates 21 regular-season Sunshine Tour events, beginning with the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open in April last year and ending at the Telkom PGA Championship in March.
After the resounding success of the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup series in 2013, the 2013-14 series will now feature a lucrative bonus pool of R10-million, double that of 2013. The winner of the 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup will win R3.5-million, with the second-place finisher winning R950,000, and third R700,000, whilst 30th spot in the bonus pool pay-out rankings will take home R50,000.
The current leader in the 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup standings, Charl Schwartzel, will also be playing in the Joburg Open, as will the remainder of the top 10 players on the list with the exception of France’s Romain Wattel.
For all of those players – but more especially for those who play all of their golf in South Africa – the Joburg Open represents an opportunity to get themselves into a good position to challenge for the lion’s share of the bonus pool.